It takes real guts to not give up and keep going. In my recent conversation with Stratis Morfogen, big-name NYC restauranteur, we talked about how hardships and competition are a part of how life is constantly teaching us lessons. 

Here are six awesome lessons that I learned from Stratis. 

#1. There’s No Such Thing as a Straight Path to Success

Stratis explained that he has been experiencing the ups and downs of this business since he was young — growing up in a family of multi-generational restaurant entrepreneurs pursuing the American Deram. 

Stratis says that the path to success is never a straight-up arrow — and if it is, you’re not giving it your all or pushing yourself hard enough to really innovate and drive value. 

According to Stratis, the pathway toward success is multidirectional and messy — but that should never stop you.  

#2. Pivot to Stay Ahead of New Trends

We all know that trends change as quickly as public opinions. One of the biggest skills that Stratis hones is his ability to pivot and change strategies. When markets take a turn, you need to jump on another boat and diversify your business plan. 

Stratis said that this was a lesson learned from his father, who would convert a few of his restaurants into new, more popular concepts when trends changed. In the ’70s, this meant converting chop houses into Greek diners which were becoming all the rage, said Stratis. Suddenly, struggling businesses became growth opportunities. 

A big lesson I learned from Stratis? Always stay ahead of — or in sync with — the trends. Moving quickly, not being afraid, and embracing new ideas and technologies is critical for long-term success. 

#3. Luck Happens to Those that Work Hard  

Quoting Abe Lincoln, Stratis said his favorite quote was “Luck happens when opportunity meets preparation” — and added that, even if you do get lucky, you won’t be able to capitalize on it unless you are prepared. 

The way I see it, having a strong work ethic enabled Stratis to make the most of opportunities when they arose. As Stratis said, you’re not going to get rich just sitting around on your couch. 

#4. Experience is Earned First-Hand 

Stratis told me that there are many things that you can’t learn from books. Stratis said that this was instilled by his father who had his ten-year-old son mop the floors and do the dishes at his restaurants — because he needed Stratis to learn the building blocks of the industry. 

From my perspective, having first-hand experiences and being in the trenches is essential for being able to teach others, and actually do well in the areas of your business. According to Stratis, doing everything doesn’t mean you need to be good at it, but at least you understand it and have exposure. 

#5. You Need a Collaborative Team 

Stratis said that when he owned 100% of everything and was in charge of it all, his failure rate was much higher. 

According to Stratis, it’s better to build a great team and get a small piece of the business success than to do it all yourself and not have as much success. He said that you need great people who all leverage each other, and people that are smarter than you to amplify your capacity.

I loved this because I believe that team-building and collaboration are essential for success. Partnerships and relationships are what empower everything!

#6. Think Differently to Appeal to Others

When trying to get Phillipe Chow to partner with him on a new business venture, Stratis said that he had to think outside of the box to get Phillipe to sign. In addition to offering him wealth on paper, as every other investor had done, Stratis said he threw in something tangible: a brand new car. 

Stratis admitted that the car lease was far less expensive of an investment than the long-term equity, but that it ultimately was the gamechanger that convinced Phillipe to partner with him. 

Stratis said that by thinking differently and offering something more tangible up-front, he found an edge and creatively approached this opportunity to work with an amazing partner. 

Thanks so much, Stratis! 

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